In my ongoing search for mama-and-baby activities for Bean and I to do together that don't involve her spending a lot of time in shopping carts and me making up things I "need" to shop for, I've run across something that I'm pretty sure is a new and uniquely American event: the playgroup or story time held inside a retail store.
I'm not talking about someone reading stories to little ones at the local bookstore. Personally, I still think of bookstores as something other than a retail category and more of a...I don't know, a sanctuary of sorts. Something more worthy than just a store somehow. The creepiness I'm talking about is Pottery Barn Kids holding a playgroup where a clown is invited, and afterwards kids are permitted to frolic in the store's play area--all the toys in which are for sale, of course. And for a pretty big chunk of cash.
Then there are those Gymboree play center classes that are admittedly separate from their kids' clothing stores, but which include the singing of songs about "Gymbo" the clown, sung to the tune of "Bingo," and which have the corporate logo emblazoned all over the place. Plus a convenient little wall of overpriced toys for sale right next to the cubbies.
Is this phenomenon not similar to Channel One still showing in many American classrooms, purportedly airing current events content but also running ads by Coke and Nike and what have you? Are my lefty roots showing and I'm freaking out over a non-existent conspiracy in which The Man tries to imprint my little one's tender brain with corporate logos? Does anyone even talk about The Man anymore?